I've really been struggling for the past few months. I've never felt like this before - I've always had doubts, but never of this magnitude. I'm just not sure where God is, or if he even is at all.
Growing up I believed in God first because my parents did. I was supposed to love Jesus because he died for my sins, so I dutifully loved Jesus, though it would probably be better described as acknowledging Jesus. It's hard for a child to love an unembodied concept of a person - I'd never seen Jesus, hugged Jesus, or held Jesus' hand like I did with the people in my life who I really loved - my Mom and Dad and Grandmas and little brother. The story of Jesus had weight for me chiefly because my parents said it was really important and I believed them. At three I prayed the sinner's prayer and accepted concept-of-Jesus into my heart.
In middle- and highschool I really believed. I finally really loved Jesus. The world was so beautiful and surely God must be so beautiful too, because He made the world. If only people would let God into their lives, they would be changed and transformed and joyful. There was such joy in the Lord! I was naive, but I was a true believer. I wasn't faking it or unsure. I believed.
In college I realized the world is very big. There are many people in it, and there is great, great suffering. It is not suffering of the "this will make me a stronger person and give me a better witness!" kind. It is suffering of the meaningless, incomprehensible, dull, aching kind, and it often ends only with death. Where is God in it? Where is God at all? I begin to realize that most of my beliefs come from never having thought another way. Why do I believe in this God who say He is present with us but never seems to show up?
I am a questioning person. I am a logical person. I want my ontological speculations and beliefs to make sense holistically. People often say, "you are too small to understand God. His ways are not your ways. His thoughts are not your thoughts." That's intellectual laziness. It's true that if God is real than He's far too big for the human mind to encompass, but that doesn't mean we don't have to have a belief in God that makes logical sense. Jesus clearly means us to: He says "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, MIND and strength." If belief in God is to be rational then it must be cognitively sound. You have to think things through - you can't just get out of it by saying "His ways are above our ways." Don't give me that. No one would take you seriously if you were talking about anything but God. "Hey, could you talk to me about this math question?" "Oh no, friend, math's ways are above our ways."
I hope, more than anything else I have ever hoped for, with all of my being, I hope that there's a God. But that's it. I hope. I don't know. Knowledge isn't faith - knowledge is fact. Knowledge is Thomas putting his fingers in Jesus' side - a concrete, observable, repeatable experience. Faith, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of observable, repeatable experience, and it's what the Christian belief system is all about. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. That's hard for me. I'm only a Thomas. I want to know.
I still pray, though prayer is actually a primary cause of my current spiritual upheaval. I hold a certain cognitive dissonance about prayer - I simultaneously believe that Jesus wasn't lying when he said "Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” and I also believe that though I have many times agreed with others on what to ask God for, He has never done it for me. There is no time in my life that I have definitely felt the presence of God or heard Him speaking to me or had prayers consistently answered. Never. Not once.
I hope there's a God. I hope because without God, all this suffering is meaningless. It doesn't matter if the man who raped a three-year-old then set her on fire goes free. She dies, he'll die and it won't mean a thing. It doesn't matter that a woman in Darfur slowly bled to death after having been gang-raped and having her nose, ears and breasts cut off. It doesn't matter. Those people are dead. Soon anyone who remembers them will be dead. They are lost, and so are we, and my dear atheist friends try to give me this bullshit about everyone's lives actually mattering more now that we know there's no afterlife because it makes what we do now while we're alive so much more important. Bullshit. It makes it nothing. It makes us nothing.
I am only Thomas. I am no great champion of faith. I am only Thomas. Jesus told Thomas "You believe because you have seen, but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe," but He still let Thomas touch His hands and side. He let Thomas prove it to himself. I'm only Thomas! I'm only me! Let me touch your hands and side!
He never answers. I knock but the door doesn't open. I seek but I don't find.